Irish Blog Whacked

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Ray of Anglo Irish Sunshine : Percy French

My introduction to the music of Percy French by Brendan O'Dowda as a child, left a big impression on me. While certainly sad, his music was my ray of sunshine, to rise above the darker side. While many Irish interpreted him as laughing at them, it is clear from the details of his work he was laughing with us. He is also a very bright light from the complex Anglo-Irish heritage. He is still very much loved In Ireland... brian

Percy French From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia1 May 1854 – 24 January 1920, born in Cloonyquin Housenear ElphinCounty Roscommon, the son of an Anglo-Irish landlord is one of Ireland's leading songwriters and is recognised for his watercolour paintings. He was educated at Foyle CollegeDerry, and wrote his first successful song while studying at Trinity College Dublin in 1877 for a "smoking concert". The song Abdul Abulbul Amir was sold for £5 to an unscrupulous publisher. The song later became hugely popular and was falsely claimed by other authors.

He graduated as a civil engineer in 1881 and joined the Board of Works in County Cavan as an Inspector of Drains. It is said that he wrote his best songs during this period. He also painted: he was a prolific painter of landscape watercolours and during this period considered art to be his true vocation. In fact, when he became well-known later in his life, his paintings from his time as a civil engineer became fashionable and sought after. When the Board reduced its staff around 1887, French turned to journalism as the editor of The Jarvey, a weekly comic paper.[2] When the paper failed, French's long and successful career as a songwriter and entertainer began. Around this time he married Ethel (Ettie) Kathleen Armitage-Moore (b.1871), second daughter of William Armytage-Moore, brother of Countess of Annesley, (wife of the Third Earl). But she (and her daughter) died in childbirth at the age of 20.
He became renowned for composing and singing comic songs and gained considerable distinction with such songs as "Phil the Fluther's Ball", "Slattery's Mounted Foot", and "The Mountains of Mourne". (This last was one of several written with his friend, stage partner and fellow composer, Dr W. Houston Collisson.)[2] But perhaps one of French's most famous songs is "Are Ye Right There Michael", a song ridiculing the state of the rail system in rural County Clare. The song caused such embarrassment to the rail company that it led to a libel action against French, though this ultimately failed. (It is said that French arrived late for the libel hearing at the court, and when questioned by the judge on his lateness, he responded "Your honour, I travelled by the West Clare Railway," resulting in the case being thrown out.)
French took ill while performing in Glasgow and died some days later (from pneumonia) in Formby at the home of his cousin, Canon Richardson of Green Lea, College Avenue on 24 January 1920, aged 65. His grave is to be found in the churchyard of St. Luke's Parish Church, Formby in Merseyside. A statue of him sits on a park bench in the town center of Ballyjamesduff in honour of him and his famous song, "Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff".

Search Results

  1. 'Celestial Painting (Sunset at Renvyle)' 
    When painters leave this world, we grieve 
    For the hand that will work no more, 
    But who can say that they rest alway 
    On that still celestial shore? 
    No! No! they choose from the rainbow hues, 
    And winging from Paradise, 
    They come to paint, now bold now faint, 
    The tones of our sunset skies. 
    When I see them there I can almost swear 
    That grey is from Whistler's brain! 
    That crimson flush was Turner's brush! 
    And the gold is Claude Lorraine.


    What a shame that Brendan O’Dowda is gone,
    He had a great voice, sure ‘twas second to none.
    The style of his singin’ for sure it was grand,
    When he told the stories of Erin’s fair land.

    In praise of his talents, let’s say it out loud,
    The songs of Percy French, sure, he did them proud.
    With a laugh in his voice he sang the humorous ones,
    But with tenderness, he sang of Erin’s lost sons.

    Of poor ould Irish mothers, whose childer are gone,
    Their beautiful daughters and fine manly sons.
    Some who’d emigrated to lands o’er the foam,
    And some who died for freedom, ne’er to come home.

    So let’s keep the mem’ries of Ireland alive,
    As we struggle along in this world to survive.
    For many years now sure, people will talk,
    Of this fine Irish tenor, your man from Dundalk.

    John Keogh, Ard File na hEireann, 15th May 2011
    Larry Mick McGarry lyrics by Percy French

    Oh Larry Mick McGarry,

     was a torment in the town,

    A lad, a woman glad o'
    Rut a man would like to drown;

    With a smile he would beguile away

    A girl from her boy,
    An' before he got a mile away

    He tired of his toy.

    Titheryah the doodle ah

    No marryin' for me!

    Titheryah the doodle ah

    As far as I can see.

    Bright by the candle light

    An' pourin' out the tea;
    But yer glad ye lidn't ax her

    in the mornin'.
    Oh, Larry played , old Harry;
    With the girls about the place.
    At the dancin' they'd be glancin'
    At the features: of his face.
    But he never would endeavour
    To be lover-like until --.,
    Mary Carey, she's a fairy,
    Had him going like a mill.

    Titheryah the 'doodle ah .
    He met her in the street,
    Titheryah the doodle ah
    Sez he, "Yer lookin' sweet, .:.
    A walk an' .:a talk wid ye'
    I think would be a treat.
    But all he got from Mary was
     "Good Morning".
    The dancin' down at Clancy's
    Brought in all the neighbourhood,
    Though the roof wasn't waterproof,
    The floor was fairly good,
    An' Larry Mick McGarry
    He could handle well the leg,
    But mary light and airy,
    Oh, she took him down. a peg.
    Titheryah the, doodle ah
    She footed it with Flynn
    Titheryah the doodle ah
    An'all the other min. ..;
    But Larry Mick McGarry
    Oh! he hadn't a look in
    Faith he had to go and find her .'
    In the morning.
    Oh, she taught him till she brought
    Up to where she had designed.
    Sez Larry, "Will ye marry me!"
    Siz she, "I wouldn't mind".
    He kissed her an' carrissed her
    Which is quite the proper .thing
    Then together,: hell for leather,
    They were off to buy a ring.
    Titheryah the doodle ah
    "No marrin" sez you.
    Titheryah the doodle ah
    Ye may escape the 'flu.
    Wait till you meet yer mate
    An' all there is to do
    Is to go an' buy the licence In the morning.

    Later On lyrics by Percy French
    When we're children at our lessons, it is beautiful to think
    Of the good time that i's coming later on;
    When we've done with silly copybooks "and 'horrid pens and ink,
    What a.. lovely time is coming later on!
    The rivers of New Zealand, the mountains of Peru,
    The watersheds of Europe, and the tribes of Timbuctoo,
    All the facts without the fancies, all the tiresome and true,

    Will be nowhere in that lovely later on..
    We'll forget the foolish fables that were written by Fontaine, In the pleasant time that's coming later on;
    At those twelve times twenty 'tables we will never look again, In the lazy time that's coming later on;
    The date of Magna Carta, the plot they called "the Rye,"
    The counties that are bounded by the Humber and the Wye,
    We may not quite forget them, but we mean to have a try
    In the lazy time that's coming later on.

    Oh' my optimistic hero, there are lessons you must learn,
    In the queer time that is coming later on;
    And the masters and examiners you'll find at every turn,
    In the hard times that are coming later on.
    Miss Fortune is a governess who'll teach you many things,
    A tutor called Experience will moderate your flings,
    You'll learn how men make money, and you'll learn that it has wings
    In the strange times that are coming later on.

    Then you'll meet the radiant vision who is all the world to you (You'll attend her mother's lectures later on);
    You'll learn that what's enough for one is not enough for two,
    Nor enough for half-a-dozen later on.
    No, the work is never ended, though for holidays you crave,
    There are pop-guns to be mended for the Robbers in the Cave.
    You fancy you're the master, but you find that you're a slave
    To a curly-headed tyrant later on.
    And so through all your lifetime you are longing for the day,
    The lovely day that's coming later on;
    When pens and ink and copybooks will all be laid away,
    And that day is surely coming later on.
    For when you're really tired, having done your level best,
    When the story's nearly ended, and the sun sets in the West,
    Then you'll lie down very gently, and the weary will find rest,
    And I fancy we'll deserve it -- later on.

    Later on, later on,
    Oh what many friends have gone,
    Sweet lips that smiled and loving eyes that shone
    Through the darkness into light,
    One by one they've winged their flight And perhaps we'll play together —later on.

    Little Bridget Flynn lyrivs by Percy French
    I've a nice slated house and, a. cow or two at grass,
    I've a plant garden running by ,the door;
    I've a shelter for the hens and. a stable for.,the ass,..,
    And what: can a man want more.
    I dunno; maybe so,
    And °a bachelor is , easy and he's free,
    But I've plenty to look after,
    And I'm living all alone,
    And there's no one looking after me.

    Me father often tells me I should go and have a try,
    To get a girl that owns a bit of land;
    I know the way he says it that there's.; someone; in his eye
    And me mother has the., whole thing. planned;
    I dunno, maybe so, .,,
    And 'twould mellify them greatly to -agree,
    But there's' little Brigid Flynn,  " Sure its her I want to win,
    Though she never throws an eye on me.
    Oh! There's a little girl who is worth her weight in gold'
    An' that's a dacent dowry don't you see;
    And I mean to go and ax her as soon as I get bold,
    If she'll come and have an eye to me.
    I dunno — will she go,
    But I'd like to have her sitting on me knee,
    And I'd sing like a thrush,
    On a hawthorn bush
    If she'll come and have an eye to me.
    My Darlin' Girl From Clare lyrics by Percy French
    We were sittin' on the wall upon a Sunday
    To watch the girls go by,
    And thinkin' we'd be marrit to one one day,
    When Kate Flynn caught our eye.
    Oh, man! she was the makin's of a fairy,
     And it made each boyo swear,
    "There's not one girl in the wide, wide world
    Like the girl from the County Clare!"
    And ev'ry man had got the finest plan
    You ever see now — barrin' me now,
    Ev'ry day there's one of them would say
    That she'll agreed now — you'll see now;
     All night they'd fight,
    As to which o' them was right,
    In the colour of her eyes and hair,
    But not a word from me was ever heard,
    About the darlin' girl from Clare!
    Says Casey: "Tis the father I'll be plazin',
    I'll tell him of the land I've tilled,
    I'll tell him of the cattle I have grazin'
    And the house I mean to build;
    And whin he sees the arable' and `pasture'
    And the fat stock feedin' there,
    An' the hens an' the chickens,
    Ye may go to the dickens
    For the girl from the County Clare."

    So every man had got the finest plan
    Ye ever see now— barrin' me now,
    Ev'ry day there's one of them would say
    That she'll agree now —you'll see now.
    Says I to meself
    Though I haven't got the pelf,
    Of brass I've got my share,
    And so I know the way they ought to go
    About the darlin' girl from Clare."
    Says Sweeney,"she'll be coming to the shop here
    To buy some sort of thing,
    I'll ax her if she has a mind to stop there,
    And should I buy the ring:
    An' whin she sees the curtains on the windas,
    An' the clock on the stair
    Keepin' time to the minit,
    No one else will be in it
    With the darlin' girl from Clare!"
    So every man had got the finest plan
    Ye ever see now — barrin' me now,
    Ev'ry day there's one of them would say,
    That she'll agree now — you'll see now;
    Thinks I "ye may stop
    Till yer dead in yer shop,
     An' not a hair she'll care, Wid all yer gold
    Yell never hold a hold
    Upon the darlin' girl from Clare."
    I never said a single word about her,
    But I met the girl that day,
    I told her I could never live widout her,
    An' what had she to say?
    She said that I might go and see her father:
    I met him then and there,
    An' in less than an hour
    We war fightin' for the dower
    Of the darlin' girl from Clare!
    So ev'ry man had got the finest plan
    Ye ever see now — barrin' me now,
    Ev'ry day there's one of them would say
    That she'll agree now — you'll see now;
    But late last night
    When the moon was bright
    I axed her if she'd share
    Me joy an' me sorra' -
    An' begorra! on to-morro'
    I'll be married to the girl from Clare!
    Eileen Oge Lyrics by
    or the Pride of Petravore)
    Eileen G Oge! an that the darlin's name is,
    Through the Barony her features they were famous;
    If we loved her who was there to blame us,
    For wasn't she the Pride of Petravore?
    But her beauty made us all so shy,
    Not a man could look her in the eye,
    Boys, 0 boys! sure that's the reason why
    We're moumin' for the Pride of Petravore.
    Eileen Oge! me heart is growin' grey
    Ever since the day you wandered far away;
    Eileen Oge! there's good fish in the say,
    But there's no one like the Pride of Petravore.
    Friday at the fair of Ballintubber,
    Eileen met McGrath the cattle jobber,
    I'd like to set me mark upon the robber,
    For he stole away the Pride of Petravore.
    He never seem'd to see the girl at all,
    Even when she ogled him underneath her shawl,
     Lookin' big and masterful when she was lookin' small,
    Most provoking for the Pride of Petravore.
    So it went as it was in the beginning,
    Eileen Oge was bent upon the winning;
    Big McGrath contentedly was grinning,
    Being courted by the Pride of Petravore.
    Sez he "I know a girl that could knock you into fits."
    At that Eileen nearly lost her wits,
    The upshot of the ruction was that now the robber sits
     With his arm around the Pride of Petravore.
    Boys, 0 Boys! with fate 'tis hard to grapple,
    Of my eye 'tis Eileen was the apple,
    And now to see her walkin' to the Chapel
    Wid the hardest featured man in Petravore.
    Now boys this is all I have to say;
    When you do your courtin' make no display,
    If you want them to run after you just walk the other way,
    For they're mostly like the Pride of Petravore.
    Rafferty's Racin' Mare lyrics by Percy French
    You've not seen Rafferty round this way?
    He's a man with a broken hat,
    His tie and his collar are all gone astray
    And his coat for the matter o' that!
    We're racin' Rafferty round the place
    Since Rafferty raced his mare,
    He's a man with an anxious look on his face
    And a partially murdered air!
    Oh! Rafferty's racin' mare
    We met him at the fair,
    Says he: "She'll win, so keep your tin,
    For backin' the racin' mare."
    We thanked him then and there,
    And every lad in Ballinafad
    Went backin' the racin' mare.
    I was the jockey they chose to ride -
    And often the owner he sware
    That there wasn't a leap in the world too wide
    To baffle the racin' mare.
    Over hurdle and ditch she went like a witch,
    Till she came where the water shone
    I gave her her head, but she stopped at it dead:
    She stopped — and I went on!
    Oh! Rafferty's racin' mare
    I whirtled through the air
    Like a beautiful bird, but never a word
    From Rafferty's racin' mare!
    Oh! Rafferty's racin' mare -
    The boys cried out "take care!"
    I took all I could, but it wasn't much good
    To me or the racin' mare.
    "Get up, you lad," says Ballinafad,
    "You'll win the race for us yet."
    But I didn't care for the look of the mare,
    Nor the way that her legs were set.
    Says they: "The horse'll stay the course,
    She'll stay it — ivery foot."
    "You're right," says I — "I don't deny
    She'll stay just where she's put."
    Oh! Rafferty's racin' mare!
    We danced around her there,
    With stones and sticks, and bits o' bricks
    We hit her fare and square.
    Oh! Rafferty's racin' mare!
    The field they leapt it there,
    But on the brink she'd stand and --- drink,
    Would Rafferty's racin' mare.
    But where was Rafferty all the time?
    Oh! Rafferty! he's the lad.
    There in the ring — he stood like a king,
    Cheerin' the mare like mad.
    His brother was there, disguised, of course,
     As a Roosian millionaire;
    Giving the odds against every horse
    And the longest against the mare.
    Oh! Rafferty's racin' mare!
    'Twas more than we could bear,
    When a bookie revealed
    he was backin' the field,
    Instead of the racin' mare.
    We've got the day to spare,
    We've got the millionaire;
    And we're havin' a race around the place,
    And Rafferty — he's the hare!
    Whistling Phil McHugh lyrics by Percy French
    Oh! Whistlin Phil McHugh,
    Has come over from Bunlaghy,
    An we don't know what's come to
    Little Mary Ann Mulcahy,
    For ever since the day
    That Phil he came a whistlin',
    She stands in the doorway
    An' she's waitin' an' she's lishnin'.
    Oh ! Mary you're contrary
     Come in and shut., the door;
    Phil's a rover, sure 'tis over,
    And he'll not come back, asthore.
    But she's lishnitf for the whistlin'
    And she's waitin' by the shore,
    For that arrun warrum
    Round her waist once more.
    There's Thady of the Cows,
    Sure you know "Ten-acre Thady,"
    Wid his fine new slated house
    He'd make her quite a lady.
    But Thady needn't stay,
    And there's no use his inthragin'.
    For her heart is far away
    'Tis wid Phil McHugh stravagin'.
    There's Danny Michael Dan,
    Who is six fut in his stockin's,
    A very proper man,
    But she never heeds his knockin's.
    She'll keep him standin' there
    For three quarthers of a minit,
    But she's racin' like a hare
    When she thinks that Phil is in it.
    'Tis wisdom's golden rule
    I do teach her till I tire,
    That every girl's a fool,
    Ay, and every man's a liar.
     What's that you say you hear,
    What's set you all a thrimbly? '
    Tis but the wind, I fear,
    That is whistlin' down the chimbly.
    Oh! Mary you're contrary,
    Come in and bar the door;
    What's that scufflin'?
    Phil, you ruffian!
    Sure I knew he'd come, asthore.
    She's been settin' there and frettin
     But now her grievin's o'er;
    And the singin' will be ringin'
    In her heart once more!

    Fighting McGuire lyrics by Percy French
    Now. Giibbon has told the story of old,
    Of the Fall of the Roman Empire,
    But I would recall the rise an' the fall
    Of a man of the name of McGuire.
    he came to our town as a man of renown,
    And peace was, he said, his desire,
    Still he'd frequently state what would be the sad fate
    Of the man who molested McGuire.
    Well, we all were afraid of this quarrelsome blade,
     An' we told him to draw near the fire,
    An' laughed at his jest, tho' it wasn't the best,
    An' swore there's no man like McGuire.
    An' when he came up with the neighbours to sup,
    His friendliness all would admire
    And he'd have the best bed, for we'd sleep in the shed,
    for fear of insulting McGuire.
    But Macgilligan's Dan — who's a rale fightin' man,
    Said: "Of all this tall talkin I tire,
    I'll step in an see whyever should he
    Be called always Fightin' McGuire,
     I'll step in and say, in a casual way,
    That I think he's a thief an' a liar.
    Then I'll hit him a clout, and unless I misdoubt,
    That's a way of insulting McGuire."
    Then onward he strode to McGuire's abode,
    His glorious eye shootin' fire,
    An' we thought as he passed we had all looked our
    On the man who. insulted McGuire;
    Then we listened with grief while we heard him called thief 
    An' abused as a rogue an' a liar;
    Oh! we all held our breath, for we knew it was death
    To give any chat to McGuire.
    Well, the row wasn't long, but 'twas hot an' 'twas strong
    An' the noise it grew higher an' higher,
    Then it stopt! — an' we said, "Oh, begorra, he's dead
    He's been kilt out an' out be McGuire!
    Then out like a thrush from a hawthorn bush
    Came something in tattered attire,
    And after it fled the man we thought dead
    The man who malthreated McGuire.
    'Twas Macgilligan's son, the victory won,
    An' we crowded around to admire
    The bowld-hearted boy who was first to destroy
    The Yoke of the Tyrant McGuire.
    An' altho' it's not true, we all said that we knew
    From the first he was only a liar,
    An' we'd all had a mind to attach — from behind
    That cowardly scoundrel — McGuire.
    The Oklahoma Rose lyrics by Percy French
    All round de moon clouds are hangin' high an' hazy;
    On de lagoon moonbeams are lyin' lazy.
    Dat's when dis coon's g'wine to meet ma Maisie,
     An' I'm singin' de same old song.
    It's not about ma Dinah 'way down in Carolina,
    Ma latest love is finer, dan any flow'r dat blows.
    In fact, she don't remind me of gals I'v left behind me,
    For true love's chains dey bind me to Oklahoma's Rose.
    She can trip like moonbeams on de water;
    Ev'ry step dis colour'd coon he taught her.
    Just one clip around her waist I caught her
    When de band play'd "Mumbling Most".
    She's ma rose, ma lily an' ma daisy;
    Where she goes the coloured coons go crazy.
    All I knows is ma Aminta Maisie
    All through de day she keeps lookin' down demurely, '
    Much as to say, "I can' a woman surely!
    I still can play with ma doll securely,
    For dis ain't' de time to spoon."
    But when de sun am sinkin her eyes begin a winkin'
    An den I know she's thinkin' of dis yer colour 'd coon.
    Oh! ain't I glad I found her. In love chains I have bound her.
    Her face is rather 'rounder — it's rounder dan de moon.
    She hears me call an she comes a-creepin', creepin'.,
    Over de wall she see me leapin', leapin', leapn',
    Big folks an' small quietly are sleepin',
    When I meet ma lily belle.
    Up an' down de ladder I'm slippin' like a shadder,
    No one could be gladder dan me, I don''.t suppose.
    I'm coaxin'her an' teasin', I'm kissin' her,and squeezin',
    It seems to me it's pleasin' to Oklahoma's Rose.
    The Four Farrellys
    In a small hotel in London I was sitting down to dine.
    When the waiter brought the register and asked me if I'd sign.
    And as I signed I saw a name that set my heart astir —
    A certain "Francis Farrelly" had signed the register
    I knew a lot of Farrellys and out of all the crew
    I kept on "sort of wonderin' " which Farrelly were you.
    And when I'd finished dinner I sat back in my chair,
    Going round my native land to find, what Farelly you were.
    Were you the keen-eyed Kerryman I met below Kenmare,
    Who told me that when Ireland fought "the odds were never fair?"
    If Cromwell had met Sarsfield, or Owen Roe O'Neill,
    It's not to Misther Gladstone we'd be lookin' for repeal.
    Would have Ireland for the Irish, not a Saxon to be seen,
    And only Gaelic spoken in that House in College Green. 
    Told me landlords wor the Divil! their agints ten times worst,.
    And iv'ry sort of government for Ireland was a curse!
    Oh! if you're that Francis Farrelly, your dreams have not come true,
    Still, Slainthe! Slainthe! Fransheen! for I like a man like you!
    Or were you the Francis Farrelly that often used to say
    He'd like to blow them Papishes from Derry walls away?
    The boy who used to bother me that Orange Lodge to join,
    And thought that history started with the Battle o' the Boyne —
    I was not all with ye, Francis, the Pope is not ma friend,
    But still I hope, poor man, he'll die without that bloody end. -
    And when yer quit for care yerself, and get to Kingdom Come,
    It's not use teachin' you the harp — you'll play the Orange drum!
    Och! man, ye wor a fighter, of that I had no doubt.
    For I see ye in Belfast one night when the Antrim Road was out!
    And many a time that evenin' I thought that ye wor dead,
    The way them Papish pavin' stones was hoppin' off yer head.
    Oh! if you're the Francis Farrelly who came from North Tyrone -
    Here's lookin' to ye, Francis, but do leave the Pope alone!
    Or were you the Francis Farrelly that in my college days
    For strollin on the Kingstown Pier had such a curious craze?
    D'y mind them lovely sisters — the blonde and the brunette?
    I know I've not forgotten, and I don't think you forget!
    That picnic at the Dargle —' and the others at the Scalp —
    How my heart was palpitatin' — hers wasn't — not a palp!
    Someone said ye married money — any maybe ye were wise,
    But the gold you loved was in her hair, and the d'monds in her eyes!
    So I like to think ye married her and that you're with her yet,
    'Twas some "meleesha" officer that married the brunette;
    But the blonde one always loved ye, and I knew you loved her too,
    So me blessin's on ye, Francis, and the blue sky over you!
    Or were you the Francis Farrelly I met so long ago,
    In the bog below Belmullet, in the County of Mayo?
    That long-legged, freckled Francis with the deep-set, wistful eyes,
    That seemed to take their colour from those ever-changing skies,
    That put his flute together as I sketched the distant scene,
    And played me "Planxy Kelly and the "Wakes of Inniskeen."
    That told me in the Autumn he'd be Bailin' to the West
    To try and make his fortune and send money to the rest.
    And would I draw a picture of the place where he was born,
    And he'd hang it up, and look at it, and not feel so forlorn.
    And when I had it finished, you got up from where you sat,
    And you said, "Well, you're the Divil, and I can't say more than that."
    Oh' if you're that Francis Farrelly, your fortune may be small,
    But I'm thinking — thinking —Francis, that I love you best of all;
    And I never can forget you — though it's years and years ago -
    In the bog below BeImullet, in the County of Mayo.

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